* WARNING – Contains spoilers *
To say The Evil Within was a hard game to review would be an understatement. Being a longtime fan of Shinji Mikami I had very high expectations for the game, and it definitely had times where it exceeded these expectations. Unfortunately it also had many elements that were a major letdown. There were moments where I was amazed, moments where I was frustrated, and moments where I jumped and let out what only can be described as a girlish scream. I’d like to share some of the moments I had while playing The Evil Within.
Haven’t I seen this before?
When The Evil Within was announced there was major talk about it being “The spiritual sequel to Resident Evil 4“. I chose to ignore the constant comparisons and decided to treat it the way it should be – as it’s own separate entity. I was really hoping the characters, storyline, and gameplay would stand out and become the start of a new hit survival horror series. In many ways The Evil Within did in fact shine in it’s own unique ways, but there was just certain things that stuck out like a sore thumb.
The first “haven’t I seen this before?” moment came when I picked up my first box of handgun ammunition. I immediately recognized the jackal name and logo on the box from Resident Evil 4‘s SMG ammo. I thought that was a pretty neat easter egg and nod to Shinji Mikami’s greatest creation.
Fast forward to the 3rd chapter, when Sebastian stumbles into a village. I was quickly swarmed by deranged villagers looking to split my head open like a pistachio with their hatchets. I kept thinking to myself “this feels very familiar”, and it all came back to mind when a chainsaw wielding maniac began rampaging through the barn. Due to my experience with RE4 my instant reflex was to kick down the ladders in the barn to keep him out of reach. Another reflex was to stun the Ganado lookalikes and unleash a Chuck Norris-esque roundhouse kick. I quickly snapped back into reality and remembered that this is not Resident Evil 4. It may look virtually identical but Sebastian Castellanos is no Leon Kennedy.
Chapter 6 was another “haven’t I seen this before?” moment. As poor helpless Joseph was being carried away to certain death from two of Ruvik’s henchmen. I almost expected Joseph to annoyingly screech out my name like a certain president’s daughter as I rushed to equip my rifle and blow off the henchmen’s heads. As I approached the cathedral door at the end of the chapter I couldn’t help but see the cult-like emblem and think of the Los Iluminados…
After completing each chapter of The Evil Within I couldn’t help but have the constant urge to put Sebastian Castellanos and his adventure on hold and reunite with Leon Kennedy, Ashley Graham, and the adorable little bastard Salazar.
It’s a Trap!
Quite possibly the most agitating element of my Evil Within experience were the traps. Countless times I was rushed or backed into tripwires or proximity explosives. Disarming the traps was a whole separate issue. When encountering my first tripwire in a hallway I casually hugged the wall and walked up to the trap expecting the disarm icon to appear. I slowly inched closer and closer, waiting and ready to hold the X button only to see my body parts fly all over the screen. I found disarming traps had somewhat of a sweet spot to engage the action, which I later noticed with levers as well. Then there was the proximity explosives, the bane of my existence. I felt constantly trolled when running up to these traps and seeing that cursed needle spin on the gauge only to miss-time by button click and either die or lose the vast majority of my life gauge. This became annoying when I hadn’t reached a checkpoint in a while and found myself back in nurse Tatiana’s company.
Die Another Day
In one of many of Sebastian’s hallucinations I entered a room to see what seemed to be the lovechild of a spider and the terrifying little girl from The Ring. I quickly maneuvered around her and shot an explosive agony bolt dead center at her face. Surprisingly she teleported right in from of me, grabbed me by the back of the head, and began slamming my face onto the tile floor until I resembled a pack of ground beef. After trying this 2 more times I realized this was useless and got the hell out of dodge.
An encounter with The Keeper (also known as Boxhead) was also a comical experience. I had just walked down a set of stairs to a long hallway, only to see the crazed maniac with a safe for a head and a gigantic meat tenderizer staring at me. All of the sudden, giant spike traps begin to crash down onto the floor. As I inched forward the camera angle flipped and while expecting a cut scene or the camera angle to change back I was squashed and smeared like peanut butter onto the floor.
All in all The Evil Within was a good experience. Sure it had it’s technical flaws, characters about as exciting as paint drying, and moments you’d swear are from Resident Evil 4, but there’s a whole lot of potential there. One day down the road I’ll most likely give it another playthrough, but until then I’m going to go back to my favorite Mikami classic and save the president’s daughter.